It was all pomp and pageantry in May 2017 when Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the Madaraka Express to launch the $3.8 billion China-funded Standard Gauge Railway that will shuttle 4000 tonnes of cargo and 1590 passengers between the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi.
Little did the president and the country know that they were celebrating the sale of their liberty and dignity to the Chinese consortium China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is managing the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) for ten years.
It was all a sham when an eight-woman team was introduced to the public out of the 65 Kenyan and Chinese drivers as those who will take control of the locomotives. They were seen only once in their uniforms in the driver’s seat ahead of the launch and never again.
Thanks to an exposé by The Standard newspaper, the China-trained Kenyan drivers and general Kenyan employees were seen once again at the rear of the trains and at the rear of every department far from their Chinese counterparts.
Kenyans could not sit on the same tables with the Chinese at the staff restaurants, Kenyans could not join staff drop off vans if there is even only one Chinese on board and the Chinese are allowed to smoke and use mobile phones at work but Kenyans will be fired for the same act.
These are some of the cases of discrimination some of the Kenyan staff told the newspaper.